More than one hundred alumni and guests returned to the House on June 6 for a reunion of alumni who lived in International House during the 1950's. Friendships were renewed, some after 40 or more years, over a reception in the Great Hall and dinner in the Chevron Auditorium. Several speakers reflected on their I-House experiences.

Alfonso GonzalezAlfonso Gonzalez (right) recalled when, as Council Chairman, he approached Executive Director Allen Blaisdell, about initiating Sunday afternoon visits between men's and women's residence areas. "Mr. Blaisdell later told me that the reason he consented was because I had asked for -- not demanded -- these visits. That experience really set the tenor for how I've conducted myself in life, with a diplomatic way of dealing with problems. It was here at I-House that I really formed my personality and outlook on life. I look back and realize that it was one of the most enlightening periods, one of the greatest experiences of my life."

Jim Clark, visiting from New York recalled, "I was here from 1946-'50. Berkeley was not an integrated community during that time. There were 24,000 students and just 300 of us were African Americans. I-House impacted very favorably on my life. I consider I-House part of my extended family. When I think in terms of ancestors, I think of Allen Blaisdell, Jean Sullivan, Eugenie Carneiro. The experience prepared me with an attitude that is very appropriate given the globalization of our economy, global competition, and instant communication. One lesson learned is that there is one truth and many, many, many paths."

catching up at the reunion

Arlene Levinson Homburger (IH 1951-'53), Wolfgang Homburger (IH 1950-'51), Mason Gaffney (IH 1948-'53), and Willa Klug Baum (1948-'49) enjoyed catching up at the reunion.

Ursula Knight Abbott recalled a tea for Lord Halifax. He wanted to visit the tower and Robert Gordon Sproul was anxious to oblige so we all climbed into the dome through the cobwebs. Then he realized that it was the Campanile that he had hoped to visit!

Jack Mahshi, who was born and raised in Jerusalem, recalled organizing a group of young men from the Middle East to perform a dance at the Spring Festival. "We gathered a group from Egypt, Palestine, Algeria, Syria, and Lebanon to dance the dabkeh but when we started to practice, we all had different ways of doing it. And we all differed in our view of the native dress. Finally we got everything together and it worked out pretty well At I-House, we had to deal with countries that were close by, that were neighbors, and all the differences. I-House gave us the chance to find similarities and smooth out the differences."

I came to I-House from war-torn Europe, from a displaced persons camp. I have friends here that I have known for 50 years. I found home here and it is still my home.

-- Julijona Fraser

Hla Shwe from Burma, "Allen Blaisdell was my guardian, not just my foreign student advisor. This was my home. Since this place is so deep down in my heart, I am proud to tell you we have completed a $700,000 addition to our little I-House in Davis."

chatting alumni

Vimala Sondhi and Virender Sondhi (IH1957-'58) enjoyed chatting with Jacqueline Gain Sheldon (1948-'50) who was visiting from England.

Patricia Marks Halbeisen, "At lunch I met a man from India and when I said I was from Great Britain, he said, 'I hate you.' Then he relaxed and said, 'Not you personally, just Great Britain.' That is the spririt of I-House."

The evening concluded with the candlelight ceremony, a tradition established by I-House founder Harry Edmonds in 1909. The ceremony symbolizes the passing of friendship and understanding to others, that the work of the House may spread throughout the world.

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